Robert Kirkman on AMC’s WALKING DEAD Writers’ Room Kerfuffle

Word broke earlier this week that Walking Dead producer Frank Darabont has said goodbye to his season one writing staff, and that he intends to  assign future teleplays on a freelance basis. The original report from Deadline wasn't entirely clear about the cause of this departure, but a supplemental interview with Robert Kirkman on TV Guide.com offers some clarification.

"It's kind of unfortunate that it's being reported that our writing staff has been fired because that's not the case," explains Kirkman. "It makes Frank look bad. I don't think Frank wants it out there that he's just firing people off of a successful show seemingly for no reason."

Part of the shock stemming from the initial report was the news that Darabont's executive producer Charles "Chic" Eglee would also be departing. According to Kirkman, it wasn't Darabont's doing, but a choice Eglee made willingly. 

"Chic Eglee is a high-level television writer. He was brought onto The Walking Dead with the idea that Frank was going to work on the first season and then go off and do movies," Kirkman says. "Chic didn't want to be second-in-command on a show when he's used to being a top dog, and so he decided to go off and do something else, which is something that happens and is not a big deal."

Kirkman concedes that he isn't sure whether the second season scripts will be farmed out to freelancers as many have suggested, or if they'll form a new writing staff. That's all being hammered out right now, but regardless of their new plan, Kirkman believes it will have little impact on the quality of the show overall. 

Comments

  1. I loved the pilot just as much as the next geek, but I actually think Darabont’s writing can be kind of lazy in that he writes too many happy coincidences into his episodes (the tank hatch, the key handcuff keys falling into the pipe) for my taste, anyways. Kirkman’s episode was solid (with the exception of the emotionally forced opening boat scene) and Glen Mazzara’s “Wildfire” episode, I also felt, was a standout amongst the rest of the season.

  2. Sorry, what I was getting at is that I look forward to new writing talent and am optimistic for the possibilities.

  3. @Tiocore: I thought the opening scene of Kirkman’s episode was pitch perfect and it made me tear up a bit and was maybe the emotional highlight of the series (not to mention I thought the episode was the best of the series except maybe the pilot), so it appears we’d have to disagree here.

  4. @iGotKittyPryde  That’s cool! I’m glad you were able to enjoy that. I thought the emotional highlite was the following episode where Andrea wouldn’t leave her dead sister’s side. Though I understand the boat scene was put there to add wieght to Amy’s death, I just didn’t buy it. Maybe I’m dead inside.

  5. This makes it seem more controversial than initial reports, not less.

  6. I’m with @Tiocore – the boat scene felt forced, but was pretty standard Kirkman fare (this is not a dismissal – I freaking love Kirkman’s comics). It was another example of things that might’ve worked in comics not really “sounding” right in real life. Kirkman’s episode in general just felt off, and overly padded (okay, so we get the gun sack but some hispanic gangsters want it but wait, they’re actually running a nursing home so never mind. Let’s go home. 8 minutes of tha tepisode was really essential to the plot/character development, the rest was goose-chase filler).

    My favorite episode so far was the last one. Dang, that was intense. 

  7. @OttoBott  The gangbangers were very important to the overall world. They showed that A) Nothing and no one is what they seem and that B) Ordinery people will go to extreme measures to protect themselves.

    And I loved the boat scene. it made Amy’s eventual death that much more poignant.

  8. @conor They weren’t protecting themselves, they were protecting old, helpless people, and some of them, complete strangers. It was a pointless bait-and-switch to show the niceness of humanity in the face of extreme adversity, and not the will to live (if they willed to live, they would’ve ditched the geriatric baggage). Waay too selfless a motivation for 99% of the characters in the comic. It lacked that undercurrent of society rotting away in the face of extinction. The altruistic gang felt too wholesome for Walking Dead; I kept expecting something to go/be wrong.

  9. I have no clue what the hell is going on with this nor how it will affect the product.

  10. @OttoBott  “Themselves” being the survivors… humanity. Some people will choose to protect themselves and other people they find along the way. We’ve met many of them throughout the course of the series. Certainly Rick and his gang aren’t the only good people out there.

    I felt it fit in perfectly with the tone of WALKING DEAD.

  11. @conor  A’ight. I don’t agree, but I can see why you think that.

  12. Frankly I don’t get all the hubbub about this writing thing.  As long as the shows continue to be good I will continue to watch.  The logistics on how they get written doesn’t matter to me in the slightest if the product is still good.

  13. The “Vatos” protecting the elderly I get, in most Latino cultures, they’re all about respecting/looking after their elders.

  14. The vatos get props for having the most accurate accents thus far, though.

  15. I agree with Connor and i think we had talked back and forth on this on the review of Vatos, but what kirkman is trying to show is that Even with everything going on , Society falling apart, law and order non existant, Now is the most important time to have some moral code, the show is about doing whats right even when no body else expects you to, its about being Human in the face of inhumanity. In a world of monsters both living and walking dead, its actually more important now to be Humane

  16. People remember the tumult that rocked Matt Weiner’s writers room last year on “Mad Men,” and you’ll notice that a few key departures didn’t affect the quality of the drama there either. Cable TV shows are insulated well against this kind of thing.

  17. We’ve kinda gotten off topic, but I wanna throw two cents in on the vatos discussion. I’ve actually seen that episode three times while watching it with various friends. The nursing home bit didn’t thrill me at first, but I see the point Kirkman was going for. I agree with Conor that it helps set the tone that “nothing is what it seems”, but I’d like to add something.

    To me, the single most important moment of the nursing home stuff (especially in terms of Rick’s evolution), was the one where G says to Rick “Everyone looks to me now, and I don’t even know why.” Rick thinks for a long moment, and replies “Because they can.” I interpretted this as Rick beginning to realize that if he doesnt start to step up and take charge, the camp is doomed. It’s the first spark of Rick the Leader. When you look at it that way, the vatos play a pretty essential role in the grand scheme.

  18. I think the show will be fine. There are lots of talented writers out there, and many successful TV shows thrived with a revolving door of writing staffs. As long as the producers and directors are the same and keep it on point, we’ll never notice someone else is sitting at the table. 

    As a side….i also loved the Vatos, and doesn’t really see the problems so many people have with them.  

  19. Also, I hope that picture of Kirkman will be Paul’s Halloween pic next year. I had to look at it twice to make sure it wasn’t Paul as Kirkman.

  20. @WheelHands  – That’s the most compelling/interesting interpretation of that episode I’ve read yet. I may have to go back and re-watch it. The idea of G’s ascension to leadership running parallel to Rick’s (or even inspiring it) plays much better for me then an overdone bait-and-switch.

    But yeah, off topic, I should’ve griped about it on the actual episode post. The show has been good, the writing can stand to be better but overall I’m not concerned. Can’t wait for next season.

  21. I don’t watch this (not liking Kiriman or zombies), but I think that it would be really cool if it got farmed out to freelancers who were also comic book writers.  If it works, that could become a model of how comic book TV shows are done, and that would be good for the writers (because who doesn’t like money?) and good for the shows (because who doesn’t like quality?).  Alternatively, what’s Brian K. Vaughn doing?

  22. @Quinn  Vaughan is developing his own show at the moment.

  23. And the writing staff was stll fired.

  24. @conor Even better, as it might be something I watch, and I miss his writing.